Diwali, the Indian festival of light, is an opportunity for family and friends to gather celebrating the years passed and the years to come. We come together to wish prosperity, health, and happiness onto each other, ringing in the new year with togetherness.
Without the physical aspect of being close, sharing food, and seeing all of our family, Diwali has certainly changed in 2020.
“It’s about coming together with your family and friends and celebrating and sharing our love and hoping for peace, prosperity for everybody,” said Tanya Nigam, my mother.
In previous years we have always lit sparklers at the end of the evening, to embody the festival of light and done small fireworks in backyards, which this year was not possible.
We also normally have a more extensive meal, and multiple events, where each family hosts a party on different weekends.
I missed the grand scale of the events.
Normally there were so many people you could never get a moment alone. Our house would be filled and bustling with family and friends, some of whom we only see on Diwali.
Although the social distancing measures prevent large gatherings and close contact, the holiday has preserved its emotional meaning.
“It’s helped us realize the privilege we live in. It’s such a privilege that we have means to celebrate, even while masked and distant,” my cousin Rupali Sarathy said. “We still did the same things, decorating the house, cooking foods, dressing up, and greeting family members over Zoom.”
Zoom and other calling services are convenient ways to communicate with each other, but for in person celebration, we cannot compromise on health guidelines.
It must always be accounted for that there be at least six feet between seating, and separate serving spoons and dishes for separate families.
“People are still not following the restrictions, I think we are very few who are trying, but I can see as we get further into the pandemic, mask wearing will rise and fall.” said my aunt Vinita Saxena.
This kind of disregard for protocols is what leads to spikes in coronavirus cases, and why keeping each other safe while still cherishing the family we are so lucky to have is so important.
“I think it is very essential, given where we are in the United States in terms of the number of cases that are increasing, I think it’s crucial that we follow the rules strictly,” said Nigam.
Diwali is one of the largest holidays celebrated in India, and although we all have to be apart, there is nothing stopping us from continuing to keep our family close, as long as safety is the priority.
I felt the celebration still captured the meaning of Diwali, and we were able to talk and share stories, still coming together as we always do.
Although we had less of us present and less extravagance in the event, we still were able to enjoy each other’s company and preserve the holiday.
A social distanced Diwali allows us to show our love for each other while keeping us all safe, so we may continue to meet and celebrate together.
Manav Kant, a family friend, said “We learned how, even despite the obstacles, we can come together and celebrate.”